Fmr DR Congo health minister jailed 5 years for stealing Ebola funds

Mohammed Awal Mar 24, 2020 at 09:30am

March 24, 2020 at 09:30 am | News

Mohammed Awal

Mohammed Awal

March 24, 2020 at 09:30 am | News

Image credit: Doberre

Democratic Republic of Congo’s former health minister Oly Illunga has been sentenced five years. Illunga was sentenced with hard labor alongside his financial advisor for stealing funds meant for the country’s fight against the Ebola virus.

Illunga was arrested last September for mismanaging funds allotted for the Ebola epidemic following his resignation as health minister after being stripped of responsibility for the fight against Ebola.

Foreign donors had provided over $150 million to combat the scourge in DR Congo where more than 3,000 people died from the outbreak since the beginning of the outbreak.

According to court documents, Illunga with the help of his financial advisor forged dozens of receipts from a nonexistent company to steal monies meant to combat the pandemic to the tune of $400,000.

The duo was also convicted to other charges including the diversion of transportation funds meant to help send life-saving items to Ebola hotspots, Africa News reports.

Meanwhile, the last Ebola patient had been discharged from a treatment center in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The woman identified as Masiko, according to the WHO office, is seen in a video walking out of the facility with a doctor amidst cheers from a crowd.

“I applaud the tireless efforts that have been made to respond to this outbreak and I’m truly encouraged by the news that the last Ebola patient has left the treatment center healthy,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa, said in a statement.

“It is not yet the end of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We must stay vigilant in the coming weeks and beyond,” he added.

DRC was the second-worst hit by the virus that ravaged the continent in 2018. The outbreak emerged in the northeastern part of DRC in August 2018 and rapidly spread across three provinces, infecting over 3,300 people and killing about 65% of them, according to Congolese health officials.

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. It is often transmitted from animals to people, and then from people to people by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated areas.

The disease is named after the Ebola River in DRC. It was first discovered in 1976.

According to the WHO, the incubation period of the disease is between two and 21 days. Some of the first symptoms include fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat. 

The other symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.

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